English Grammar And Writing

When How to Block Quote

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If you are working on an essay, an article or even just a blog entry, you probably know how to use short quotes in your writing already. But what about when you have long quote? Read on to find out just what to do with long quotes.

Why Use Block Quotes

The average attention span for a human being is 8 seconds. If you are writing an essay for school or an article for the sheer joy and pleasure of it, one of things to keep in mind is your reader's attention. Writers should always try to capture their reader's attention and hold it for as long as possible. It's sort of like training puppies-- you have to keep giving them treats while sneaking in the stuff they don't really want to do. This is where quotes come in. Some readers may just skip over quotations because they know that the writer will explain them at some point.

While block quotations help capture our attention, they were originally used because back in the day (in the 17th century) the quotation mark was so new that some printers over used them. They would put a quotation mark at the beginning of every single line of text they were quoting. Eventually this practice died down, but the blank space remained where the quotation marks were. The block quote was born.

The Modern Language Association

The Modern Language Association (or MLA for those of us with a less than 8-second attention span), tells us that any quote longer than four lines should be put into a special format called a blockquote. Remember that it is not four sentences, but rather, four lines of text. To put the quote in block format you do not put quotations around it. Instead, you start a new line below the sentence leading up to your quote. The new line needs to be indented an inch from the left margin. In most writing software, you just push the tab key twice to get a 1-inch indent. All the lines of your quote should have the same 1-inch indentation. The block quote should be double spaced.

That wasn't so bad, right? The only thing about the MLA style block quote that sometimes trips people up is that you put your citation after your punctuation instead of before. Normally, when you quote a source in an essay, you put the author's last name and page number in parentheses after the quote then put your punctuation after. For example 'This is the quote that I am using in my essay' (Johnson 23). For a blockquote, you will put the citation (Johnson 23) after the punctuation. So the very last part of blockquote would read; last few words of the quote. (Johnson 23)

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APA Formatting

A lot of people follow MLA guidelines, while others follow the American Psychological Association (APA for short). The rules for block quoting in APA are not too different from MLA . The APA tells us that if you are using a quote with 40 or more words, you need to use a block quote. You will start the quote on a new line and indent half an inch over. The tab key will give you a half-inch indent. After that, each line following needs to be indented the same amount. Just like with MLA block quotes, you will need to put your citation after the punctuation mark. The only difference between MLA and APA style block quotes is that the margin is half of an inch with APA and you use block quotes with 40 or more words (rather than more than four lines as with MLA).

  Umbreen Aleem   Thursday, 02 Jan 2020   15 Views

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